Relief is at Hand
Menopause is a pivotal time in every woman’s life, filled with sometimes curious, sometimes infuriating (read hot flashes), and occasionally alarming symptoms. One of the many symptoms often associated with menopause is bloating. While this bloating is benign, it is nonetheless problematic and undesirable for many women. Let’s explore what causes menopausal bloating, how our diet can positively or negatively affect its severity and how we can best manage and treat the symptoms, like Premarin, a medication primarily used in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal women.
What Causes Bloating?
If you are menopausal like me, it's quite likely that you have experienced menopausal bloating. This uncomfortable bloating can also occur during perimenopause, the earliest stage of menopause. The bloating associated with menopause is not at all cosmetic; bloating can be linked to pressure, distention, cramping and pain in the abdominal area. The physical cause of menopausal bloating is typically retained water or gas.
Also associated with bloating are other symptoms such as constipation, slowed digestion and stomach pain. Belly-bloating during menopause is certainly age-related and caused at least in part by this as well as hormonal changes, particularly the drop in estrogen production. Other painful and disruptive symptoms include gas, indigestion, acid reflux and heartburn. However, there are ways to prevent some of this discomfort and ways to find relief from menopausal bloating.
Be Proactive and Prevent Bloating
While it's not desirable or possible to halt menopause, it may be your desire to avoid the issue of menopausal belly bloat altogether. Prevention tips are straightforward and easily added to your daily life today. First, be sure to drink lots of water which will work toward a healthy digestive tract; water helps to keep things moving, thereby preventing constipation. While water retention is linked to bloating, consuming adequate water for hydration and essential body processes is vital, so don’t skimp on your water consumption.
You will want to keep your gut biome as healthy as possible, so try to avoid disrupters such as caffeine and alcohol. Both alcohol and caffeine may worsen your bloating symptoms as they negatively impact the gut microbiome. In addition, a healthy diet rich in fiber, whole grains, fruits and vegetables will also contribute to a healthy gut and a reduction in bloating. Any foods that cause gas may need to be excluded from your diet, at least until the bloating is resolved. For example, these foods include fried foods, carbonated drinks, broccoli and beans.
Adding probiotics to your daily diet will keep your gut happy and reduce inflammation and bloating. Try miso, yogurt and kimchi for delicious options, and talk to a registered dietician about suggested probiotic supplements. Further, all healthy diets should contain a minimal amount of heavily processed foods which are linked to gut inflammation and bloating.
Chewing gum and smoking both lead to increased air intake, which may be drawn into the stomach, causing bloat. These two habits, mainly smoking, should be avoided. Add at least thirty minutes of physical activity to your daily routine if you are not already active. Not only will exercise ease your menopause symptoms, it will dramatically improve your overall physical and mental health. Find some like-minded women to join in on your fitness journey, and try various ways to feel great such as swimming, dancing, brisk walks or a fitness class!
How to Provide Relief
Finding relief from menopausal bloating involves a few simple, healthy lifestyle changes. While belly bloat is quite typical for women experiencing menopause, the cause might be individual, so the first step is to narrow down the source of the bloating. There is little that can be done about our fluctuating hormones. We can, however, make positive changes to our activity levels and diet.
Finding ways to aid in digestion is vital to resolving belly bloat, so I enjoy a variety of teas that work toward this result. Teas containing ginger, fennel and green tea always soothe my gut. A mug of plain hot water offers similar benefits. Yoga is an excellent activity for aiding digestion, as many yoga movement patterns and flows were designed for this exact purpose.
Using Your Diet to Your Full Advantage
Just as with many other age-related changes, diet plays a massive role in the quality of our lives. Certain foods may aggravate your menopausal bloat, while other foods will relieve and reduce your symptoms. Avoid foods that you already know cause you gas, indigestion or other gut discomfort. For me, that means minimizing spicy foods, coffee and fizzy drinks.
Eat smaller meals and eat slowly; both of these habits will let your body process your food optimally. Try to cut back on your salt intake, as this will increase bloating, and remember that convenience foods, fast foods and many snacks all contain far too much salt for our health.
How Your Doctor Can Help
See your doctor if you have any concerns about your symptoms, if your symptoms suddenly worsen or if there is a change to the number and type of symptoms you are experiencing. Talk to your healthcare team about all of your menopausal symptoms; they may recommend diuretics, gas medications, hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills as ways to improve your quality of life. Once your body has had time to adjust to the many changes brought on by menopause, your bloating should be resolved.